For the first time Ukrainian photographer has won the contest of British Vogue. The winner of the contest, Vova Klever is a fashion photographer, director and art director from Kyiv, who has become famous for his photo shoots with Ukrainian brands.
The winning photo project consists of two parts: the first is inspired by the work of Paul Gauguin, the second – by one April morning, when Vova with the girlfriend were walking in an empty field without clothes. «It was 2 degrees outside. We did not feel cold. We felt free», – Vova recalls. These two parts were later merged into one project that corresponded to the theme of the British Vogue competition: Reset / Renewal.
“I’ve spent long time thinking how to redefine the theme of the competition, – Vova says. – At one point, I realized that since 2019, my open Gestalt is Gauguin. It was not the first time that I saw his works personally, but only at this point I have really felt them”. Vova saw Gauguin’s works in the Pushkin Gallery, where a separate hall was dedicated to the artist’s works. Since then, Paul has become his favourite artist.
“It was the first time when I felt such a strong energy from art. I was dazzled by these colours – they caused goosebumps in my body. I listened to an audio guide about each painting, immersing myself even deeper into his works. I focused my eyes on one of the paintings called “Are you jealous?” and froze next to it. Paul Gauguin considered it to be his best work”.
One of the paintings that Vova refers to in the project is called «Matamoe», which in Tahitian means death. «At that moment, I realized that the concept of death is very close to the themes of life, reset and renewal. I wondered why the artist has given such a weird name to a painting – it depicts only a landscape. When Gauguin was painting it, he felt that at that moment a civilized bourgeois was dying inside of him and a savage was being born. Death to him is reincarnation, reset and renewal. He moved into the other dimensions when he was able to free himself from his former self». Gauguin left his wife, five children and a job at the stock exchange and moved to French Polynesia, devoting himself to art.
«I dedicated myself to this competition and to the shooting of this project. As Tarkovsky said, if you want to make a movie that will make the audience think, you have to devote yourself completely. The movie should control you, and not vice versa. That is exactly what has happened to me», – the photographer says.
Before starting the work on the project, Vova bought diaries, albums, books and documentaries about the artist. He spent a whole month studying his work and life, shooting the project three days before the deadline.
Now Vova plans to get a visa to London and meet the team of British Vogue. He will be mentored by the visual director of the magazine during one year with three portfolio reviews, and will be able to get on backstage during the magazine’s editorial shooting twice.
«My main goal is to make it in the international market. I want to bring to life my boldest ideas. Sometimes I feel that it is harder to do it in Ukraine. There are many reasons for this, including budgets and the approach to work. I am also interested in the gallery space», – Vova says about his plans for the future. It promises to be successful.
– From the interview for Buro24/7, text: Elizabeth Pavlenko